Office of External & Competitive Scholarship Advisement

The Interview Process

How to master the scholarship interview process.

In addition to the written application, in-person interviews are required for most scholarships that require campus nomination of candidates. If the applicant is chosen to advance to the next level of competition (state, regional or national), further interviews with semifinalScholarship workshop with Harvard expertlists and finalists may be held. Be sure to check specific scholarship materials for details about interviews.

Be Honest

Anything you put in your written application is fair game for the interview, so it's important to be honest and avoid stretching the truth. For example, if you claim to know a foreign language, expect to be quizzed in it. Also, be aware that some interviewers like to concentrate on apparent inconsistencies in your personal statement, study proposal or other parts of your written application.

Scholarship Interviews Vs. Job Interviews

Interviews for major scholarships tend to be quite different from job interviews. For one thing, the "rules" of conduct and appearance are more relaxed. Instead of being a tool for assessing job skills, the interview for a major scholarship takes on the tone of an intellectual exchange. You can prevent a lot of stress and nervousness if you approach the situation as a conversation rather than an interrogation.

Dress Conservatively

A conservative, dark-colored suit—standard attire for a job interview—is acceptable for scholarship interviews as well. The rule of thumb is to wear clean, presentable business attire (coat and tie for men, dresses and skirts of appropriate length or pantsuits for women). The grunge look, gym shoes baseball hats and other casual fashion statements should be avoided.

Be Prepared

While interviews are not intended to be threatening or hostile, you should expect to be challenged about your knowledge, your views and your values. Keep up with current affairs. Know something about the person after whom the scholarship was named. The interview may last only 20-30 minutes this is not an opportunity for you to give a speech. It's quite likely that you will be interrupted and that you will not be able to say everything you want to say.

Finish Strong

Seemingly off-the-wall questions may be thrown at you to see how well you can think on your feet. Don't lose your cool! If you find the questions (or the manner in which they are asked) discomforting, it's because the interviewers are "squinting with their ears" to discover what makes you tick. You will be expected to make some concluding remarks. End your interview with a positive note. It may not be a bad idea to reflect upon your experience of putting this application together and what it meant to you.

Potential Questions

In July 1999 a workshop on Truman and Marshall scholarships was held at Fayetteville Arkansas. One of the sessions of the workshop was devoted to preparing applicants for the interview segment of the application process. As part of this session, Truman and Marshall Selection Committee members held simulated interviews. Below is a list of possible questions inspired by that session: This list is by no means comprehensive, and is not necessarily the same list of questions you might face in the mock interview. This list is designed to give you the nature of questions that are asked:

  1. Can you name three recent novels you read?
  2. Which newspapers do you read on a regular basis?
  3. Why are you applying for the Rhodes scholarship? Or, what makes you a good candidate for this scholarship?
  4. Can you recount the most embarrassing moment of your life?
  5. What do you know about Cecil Rhodes?

One final tidbit about the Rhodes’ Scholarship: Rhodes scholarships were awarded only to men until the mid-seventies. Today, Rhodes foundation takes great pains to ensure that women and students from minority groups are also given equal chances to win these scholarships.